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Posted 17 October 2023

Holistically Lowering Student Loan Debt

With more than 45 million borrowers, $1.757 billion in total student loan debt, and an average loan total of $39,590, it’s important to consider alternative ways to lower student loan debt. We’ll share a holistic perspective that may help you lower your student loan debt even before taking your first steps on campus. 

What is Holistic? 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines holistic as:  

1) Characterized by the belief that the parts of something are interconnected and can be explained only by referencing the whole.  

2) Medicine — Characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors rather than just the symptoms of an illness. 

We’ll consider this definition while looking at three main areas of focus when it comes to loan debt. 

Understanding Your Values 

Brene Brown defines values as, “A way of being or believing that we hold most important. Living into our values means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them.” When you better understand your values, it can help you choose majors and classes more easily. For instance, if you value the adventure of travel, being outdoors in nature, and protecting the environment, then you can begin to build your college experience around those values. Doing so can minimize the time and money spent on classes that won’t move you forward. Odyssey College Prep found that $18,000 is the cost associated each time a student changes their major because of inapplicable college credits.  

Think, Sign, Do 

If you’re not quite sure what your values are — or if you are having a difficult time articulating them — then “think, sign, do” is for you. Think about and write down everything that piques your interests and gets you excited. Sign up for courses, classes, or lessons in those interests, and attend what you signed up for. Taking time to explore your interests will not only help identify your values, what you excel at, and what you struggle with, but it will provide real-time feedback. These experiences will give you information to help you better choose a career path while avoiding wasted time, taking unnecessary credit hours, and increasing student loan debt. 

Borrowing Less and Paying More 

Once you’re ready to take out student loans, be sure you’re borrowing only what is needed, pay any accumulating interest while in school to ease your post-graduation burden, and return any student loan refund overages. Student loan refunds are not free money and must be paid back just like any other borrowed loan. When you do begin repayment, it’s important to consider paying more than the minimum to help pay the loans off faster and decrease the overall interest paid.  

Student loan debt may be unavoidable for many, but there are ways to lower your debt before you walk onto campus or take out your first loan. When you leave space to consider your values, what matters deeply to you, and take time to have experiences, you’ll place yourself in a position to borrow less.